Isn’t it Time for a Stretch?

comfort zone

Get Out of Your Comfort Zone to Get Ahead

We all have our comfort zone: a world where we are at ease in our routine surroundings, job, community, and relationships. We know these routines like the back of our hand and feel comfortable in knowing that things will rarely change. But here’s the problem with that: the world is always changing. Nothing ever stays the same. If you always stay inside your comfort zone – especially when it comes to your career – you will find yourself stuck, or worse, left behind.

Not sure what I mean? Take a look at the way we consume music, as an example. Depending on your age, you might have listened to music on records, 8-tracks, cassettes, CDs and now on your phone. If musicians who once distributed their music only on 8-tracks tried doing that today because they were “comfortable” with that format, their sales would seriously flop.

The point is this: our world is always changing and, as professionals, we have to be ready and anticipate those changes. More than that, we should invite those changes into our lives. The most successful people are the ones who know that change is inevitable and adapt to those changes faster than others. So staying in your comfort zone simply won’t cut it.

To help you be as successful as possible, consider engaging in some simple habits that can prepare you to think and live outside your comfort zone – even if it’s just a little bit at a time.

For starters, ask yourself these questions:

  1. What would you do if you could do anything?
  2. What would you like to learn about?
  3. What small changes would you like to make to your life?

We oftentimes get stuck in our comfort zones because of the routines we adapt to, often without intention. While routines and schedules can be helpful, they can also keep us stuck. Be open to trying new things every once in a while. Consider changing up your routine by doing one of the following:

  1. At Home:
    1. Think of a way to reward yourself for the new habit you WANT to build.
    2. Try a new restaurant or eat radically different food items.
    3. Eliminate TV after dinner and find new activities.
  2. At Work:
    1. Make a point to notice positive efforts daily and compliment people.
    2. Invite a colleague to lunch who you don’t know well.
    3. Do a favor for a coworker.
  3. Explore your community:
    1. Visit a museum, art store, antique mall, etc.
    2. See a play.
    3. Go to a friend’s kid’s soccer, baseball, or hockey game (even if you have your own kids’ games).
    4. Walk, run or ride on a new trail.

These simple and fun adventures allow you to see opportunities you are missing and help you to stretch out of your comfort zone. As you exchange stale routines for fresh and healthy new ones; you’ll likely find you have increased energy, better attitudes, more friends and optimism for the future. It doesn’t take much to shake things up and elevate your opportunities for career advancement and life enjoyment.

Another way you can get break out of your comfort zone without leaving the comfort of your chair is by joining online community groups of like-minded professionals. If you’re looking to shake things up professionally, consider joining my free Facebook group, Power, Persuasion & Presence. This group is designed to help talented, ambitious professionals and motivated leaders develop the Presence, Power and Persuasion they need to make a positive impact, advance their careers and be successful in executive roles. Click here to request to join.

What I’m REALLY grateful for this year.

I had a different post planned for today, one about looking forward to move ahead. But then I was reminded that sometimes the best way to move forward is to look back. This week, I lost one of my first and favorite bosses and mentors, John Pollis – “JP” as we all called him. I was extremely sad to hear the news of his illness and passing and it led me to recall him in great detail.

He was charismatic with an executive presence that commanded the attention of every room he entered. His mind was brilliant, mathematically gifted and a fast thinker – his ability to shoot from the hip was legendary. Along with this, he was incredibly varied in his interests and great at whatever he tried…he was a scratch golfer, owned a toy store, was an NFL referee and a GE sales rep before he was a Fortune 100 executive. I think his most impressive talent was his ability to build social capital wherever he went and with anyone he met.

JP wasn’t just your average people-person either; he turned collegial friendships into an art form. He magnetized people into his life and cultivated relationships over long periods of time. It’s been 19 years since I worked for JP, yet not one year has gone by that we haven’t been in touch. And it’s not because I’m particularly special – he was just that good at relationships. As I am writing this post, I am confident that there are thousands of people he impacted who are also mourning his loss.

During my ruminations about JP, I found a gift I did not expect: he reminded me that I am special. Thinking back on my younger self and what it was like to be a bright and eager professional, I remember JP would often throw me into the deep end of the pool with big projects and important assignments. They rarely came with instructions yet always included a clear vision and what success looked like. Underlying it all was his optimistic belief that I could do whatever it was he was asking of me, and because he believed I could, so did I.

Life moves quickly and we rarely see its beauty as it’s happening. The moments, the opportunities, the experiences and the people who change us; we see them in the rearview mirror and sometimes not at all. There’s no doubt that JP helped me accelerate my career – but that’s not the gift he left behind. The gift is looking back at myself through his eyes, and through my older and wiser ones. When I was a young high-potential, I succeeded in doing big and often scary things like going on national TV, getting accounting lessons from the CFO and trying to convince people twice my age who had vastly more experience that I had a good idea. This gift is being able to look back and re-experience monumental success – and know that when I believe in myself I can accomplish anything. I am very sad about JP’s passing, and yet I am also lighthearted and energized because of what he gave me to remember.

This Thanksgiving week, I hope you have a great turkey dinner with all the trimmings. I also wish you some quiet time to delight in memories of people who believed in you, savor your past successes all over again and allow them to enrich your spirit and mobilize your energy to move into the coming year with confidence and optimism. I know that’s what I’ll be doing.

The Top 6 Qualities All Great Leaders Have

What makes a great leader, great?

Countless adjectives can be used to describe a great leader, and while our definitions of leadership may differ, we all know a great leader when we see one. Think of a great leader that you respect… what makes you admire them? What skills do you think they possess?

You don’t have to be the CEO of a company, or start a movement, to be a leader. Leadership is demonstrated by how we live our lives day-to-day.

Below are seven qualities of great leaders that, with practice, you can master:

Confidence – It gives great leaders the ability to get things done. By remaining calm and self-assured, you as a leader, will assist in keeping the team feeling the same. Remember: your team will be observing you, so if you radiate a level of confidence, your team will pick up on that vibe. This way, when they hit a bump in the road, they have the confidence to know they will figure it out or attain the right resources to do so. The goal is to keep the entire team working and moving ahead.

Inspirational – Great leaders inspire action into their team. They do what it takes to set their team up for success. However, a great leader also acknowledges the work that has been given and applauds the team on each their contributions. It is the job of a leader to keep spirits up, and that begins with an appreciation for the hard work.

High-Integrity – All of the greatest leaders have led by example. They have resilient values and can be counted on to be dependable, truthful and fair-minded. A great leader makes ethical choices, they practice what they preach, and support their team in doing the same.

Communication – As a leader, being able to clearly explain your vision and what you want done is extremely important. If you can’t properly communicate this, the team won’t all be working toward the same goal. Great leaders listen to their team, and establish systems and routines to ensure ease of communications throughout their organization.

Positive Outlook – One of the most important qualities a great leader can possess is being able to use positive thinking to motivate others. Leaders see opportunity in every challenge. They keep the entire team focused on a successful future while helping them overcome obstacles.

Tenacity – Persistence is everything. Great leaders refuse to let temporary setbacks derail them. When working toward a goal, a tenacious leader demonstrates drive, while having remarkable determination until the goal is achieved. People admire a tenacious leader because it lets them know their effort won’t go to waste if reaching their target is more difficult – or takes longer than predicted.

A quick way to up your game is to select a couple areas where you would like to improve, and practice the actions indicated above. Pay attention to the changes you witness. Developing and consistently using your leadership skills is a commitment that will greatly benefit you through the course of your life. Leadership is about guiding ourselves just as much as it is about guiding others, too.